This Commercial May Make You Like Barbie Again [WATCH]
Barbie isn’t the most popular of dolls anymore. She constantly looks perfect, has impossible body proportions, and has been cited as promoting unhealthy body image in young girls, and criticized for perpetuating beauty standards.
Instead, parents have expressed keener interest in dolls that look a bit more realistic, without heavy makeup and mile-long legs that end in feet that are perpetually tapered for high heels. Artists like Sonia Singh and Emily Tsao have even made efforts to “upcycle” old dolls, turning them into toys that kids can relate to, and which can inspire them.
It’s that inspiration that Mattel, the company behind Barbie, is trying to channel in its new commercial. It’s so effective, it just may make you like Barbie again.
In the video, hidden cameras reveal people’s real reactions when a little girl starts teaching a college class, when another one poses as a veterinarian at a real doctor’s office, and my personal favorite, as a football coach, and makes the burly players run a series of warm-ups.
The end of the video reveals that the Barbies these little girls play with have sparked their imaginations, allowing them to see the real possibilities and to aspire to achieve their dreams. Barbie has had over 200 careers in her long lifespan, and a significant portion of them are typically “male” jobs in order to reinforce the idea that a woman can do anything a man can.
The two-minute commercial, entitled “Imagine the Possibilities” has gained in popularity, with some saying that Mattel finally “gets it.” Barbies aren’t meant to make a little girl want to grow up and look exactly like her, impossible body proportions and all. They’re supposed to let a little girl (or boy) “imagine the possibilities.”
This commercial is, in fact, more aligned with the original Barbie philosophy, when it was first created in 1959. Mattel has said that this commercial is in line with the purpose of Barbie: to tell children they can do anything they set their mind to:
For over 56 years, Barbie has inspired imaginations and encouraged girls on their journey to self-discovery. From Mermaid to Movie Star, Pet Vet to Police Officer, Fashionista to Fairy Princess, Barbie continues to celebrate the belief that You Can Be Anything.
Unfortunately, sometimes Barbie is more mermaid and movie star than pet vet or police officer, but maybe that will change.
Sure, these Barbies haven’t been redesigned: they still have stick-thin, shiny legs, a perpetually glossy smile, and a teeny waist, but at least Barbie is now focusing on something else, other than unicorns and princesses, in their marketing strategy: they’re recognizing that more and more parents want inspirational—and aspirational—dolls for their children, and that it just may be that the toys our children play with may inspire them to reach for more in their adult lives.